Category Archives: Helpful Thinking

Do we believe nothing will ever change? A response from The Promises of Depressed Anonymous. #1

Excerpts from The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

++++++ FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION/COMMENTARY ON THE PROMISES EACH DAY +++++++

” I do believe that the pain of our depression originates from inside ourselves. We construct present day reality based on life experiences. The past is the predictor of the future. As it says in Depressed Anonymous, many of us hold the absolute belief that “since bad things happened to us in the past bad things will happen to us in the future. ” In other words – we have made up our minds – nothing will ever change. And of course this belief is what promotes and keeps our depression alive.”

The opposite of depression is spontaneity and vitality. When we are depressed we move about as in a fog. We are stuck. Since we desire everything to remain the same, that is, predictable, we in no way believe that life can be different for us. If we intend to stay stuck, we make the decision, choose to stay in the rut of being lifeless, hapless and hopeless.

As we change old beliefs into new ones we believe that things can change as things begin to change. We will begin to experience hope, light and joy.”

“… life doesn’t have to be lived alone in agony or misery.” (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 41.)
___________________________________________________________________________
NOTE:
Tomorrow our commentary on the Promises continues for Promise #1.

Copyright(c) The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 1-3. The 1st Promise of a total of 13 Promises.

You can be the “good news” of hope for a person depressed

HERE IS YOUR HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY

AFFIRMATION

I want to carry the message of hope to those others who are depressed.

Quoting Dr. Dr. Dorothy Rowe who tells us “what I so often said, that the best way that depressed persons can help themselves is to help one another. Form a group, get to know one another, support one another.”

REFLECTION

They also think that all I have to do is just be cheerful and my mood will automatically change. It’s like telling someone to stop their diarrhea as if they have control over it. My depression took time to develop so it will take time and work to remove. The people who are the most support are those who have been depressed themselves, they won’t tell you to snap out of it.

I best support myself when I find other people like myself and try and help them. Form a group, get to know one another, support one another.

MEDITATION
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.” (The Serenity Prayer recited at all Depressed Meetings.)

RESOURCES
(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. (1993) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. (Reading for October 7th.).
(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

* All Depressed Anonymous publications are available for purchase online.

The Covid-19 and its effect on a pre-existing clinical depression

Since we believe that depression just doesn’t come out of the blue, but stems from our relationship to the environment, our past and present relationships and NEGATIVE ruminations and self-talk.

For instance, the pandemic is a good place to start to untangle some of those underlying conditions which keep popping up in our daily lives. The covid-19 continues to create havoc, fear and anxiety in ourselves and communities. The more isolated we are from our normal life activities the more time we spend on all the negativity that continues to envelope us.

Anxiety and fear, both of which are some of those feelings and moods which may have contributed to our depression in the first place. Feelings can change from one to the other while moods are longer lasting with an ability to spiral down deeper in our psyche, resulting in an emotional lockdown. We can couple this with a fear that our life is spinning out of control, as our mind continues latching onto the worse possible scenario for our future, throwing more fuel on the fire, believing that life will always be this way for ourselves. We continue to live in total hopelessness.

And then the pandemic. Here we are, away from all the normal activities that once provided us with some temporary distraction from our fears and anxieties. It’s not as if we didn’t continue to feel the pain of living a life of isolation, holed up in the darkness of our own paralyzing moods, day after day, but now that we are cut off physically from friendships, co-workers, close friends or family members, our isolating pushes our negative moods further down. All this comes with a strong possibility that the virus may have claimed the life of a family member or grandparent or close friend or co-worker.

My own feelings, are the same basically of everyone else. Here we are, gradually realizing that this is now the “new normal” for each of us. We come to realize that we need to step back, and look at where we are today – and face our fears and anxieties. The question arises as what do I do now? Let me share with you my own experiences as my own life is turned upside down.

Because of my involvement in a mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, I am able to leave some of the pain of my isolation, join with all those others like myself who together are giving each other hope. All of us can share – not just our own pain of isolation – but ways to deal with and encourage each other with the successes we have experienced in facing our own fears and anxiety now and in the past.

As we try to navigate this “new normal” as best we can, we discover together how we are helping each other, day after day find a real lifeline – even though a virtual one. I am making this path work for myself, actively participating with the rest of the group, finding that my anxieties have diminished. By being in the now and being part of this mutually support group I am finding that there is a way out. I no longer am going to stay isolated.

“There is hope…and we do recover.” Please join us on SKYPE AND ZOOM – there are meetings on SKYPE every day at 11:30PM CST / 12:30PM EST and ZOOM four times a week (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. See Home page menu for DA meetings for more information). This is located at our website depressedanon.com.

Finally, one of our resources is the Depressed Anonymous Workbook that we use at our meetings, helping us to uncover some of our “underlying conditions” that existed prior to the present pandemic.

Presently our contacts with family and friends are stretched thin. Everything that makes us a human being, those live social encounters that provided us with joy, comfort and hope. We all have lost that shoulder to shoulder feeling and the hugs and smiles that gave us hope. Now the new normal is social distancing six feet apart. People older-stay home. Wear mask. I agree with all those solutions to staying safe.

It is here at our virtual online Depressed Anonymous meetings where we share and strengthen our resolve, uncovering those areas of our lives (thinking, feelings, moods, behaviors) that prohibit our personal growth and happiness. Now we are replacing our hopelessness and helplessness with hope and help everyday online.

The Depressed Anonymous fellowship is a potent provider of self-discovery as we move from one Step to the other at our meetings using the Workbook format. It is here in this virtual environment where we not only can take the time to listen to others in the group about their own issues, but listening as well to their many responses to how hope and healing have given them a new freedom, a new self-confidence while being provided a self-discovery tool, the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. This tool, with the Depressed Anonymous manual is used at every meeting.

If you are interested in a HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY you can learn more about this process of recovery from our website.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook and Depressed Anonymous manual are also both available online as eBOOKS from Depressed Anonymous Publications.

YOUR HOPE IS OUR HOPE!

Hugh for the fellowship

Mood Rings

A number of years ago, a marketer of mood rings was making the claim that you could discover your mood by checking the color of the stone in the setting of the ring. Black was for a depressed mood, a blue for a “blue” mood, and green for a normal or happy mood. Well, I bought one and checked out my mood. Bingo! My mood ring indicated that I was in a happy mood, which I was. Hey, “this is great” I told myself. One half hour later I excitedly checked my mood ring again. “What” I exclaimed, “how can that be” as my ring had NOW changed to black. And that is the way it went for the rest of day. Green, black, blue and then blue again. I told myself I was still happy, nothing had changed there. Long story short – it was just another gimmick. So much for “fake” science. I knew that the diagnosis of my own mood was much more accurate and so I got help. But still, when the saddening symptoms of depression began to get worse, such as being unable to get out of bed, lacking any motivation to do what needs to be done, like going to work and keeping my important appointments. It is these daily responsibilities that began to slide. And then what seemed like just a short time I found myself immobilized and in a mental and physical lockdown.

If this is happening to you – we can help or at least point you in the right direction.

Welcome to our Depressed Anonymous meetings. We don’t depend on mood rings, but we do use the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps. These are at the core of our own recovery. By work, time, prayer, going to meetings and reading Depressed Anonymous literature we do recover and we do find our way out of depression. I can only tell you my own experience with depression and what tools I used to move out of isolation and begin doing the things that all of us in the program do to get well and back on track.

Here are some of my recommendations on getting started today, and finding that caring fellowship of men and women dedicated to helping themselves and others, and accompanying them on a path that leads out of depression, sadness and futility. The first Step is to admit that I need help and that my life is unmanageable. “I can’t go it alone anymore. I need support coupled with a belief that I can get better. Give me the tools and I will get to work!”

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Attend Depressed Anonymous meeting. They happen every day of the week and sometimes twice a day, dependent whether it is a ZOOM DA meeting or a SKYPE DA meeting. Meeting times and locations can be found here on our website @ www.depressedanon.com.
  2. Attend a virtual (because of the Pandemic) Depressed Anonymous meeting, and click onto the site to gain entrance to the meeting. You will be welcomed by a member of the DA fellowship. If you do attend a meeting you can either pass or share your first name. But remember, you can ask questions, and participate as much as you are comfortable with. It is also important to listen to the members of the group and see if this meeting discussion talks about any issues that may be your issues.
  3. Some group members will post their phone numbers/emails at the meeting so that you might contact them if you would have questions about the group. Every Monday at the Skype meeting there is a Newcomers group meeting. This is a meeting that is very helpful to the new member. This can be a very good venue where some of your questions/concerns may find answers. The website also provides a wealth of literature available for purchase online plus special subject material at the Home Page menu. If you would like a person to help you with questions that you have about depression, they will be happy to share with you their story.

Hugh for the Fellowship
Finally, please trust your own feelings, not the Mood ring. šŸ™‚

Slow down! Road work ahead!

How often do we see these orange warning signs along our highways? Sometimes it seems that everywhere we go, construction is going on. According to Murphy’s law, they only show up when we are in a hurry to get somewhere else.

In our recovery it is a necessity to read the signs that tell us to slow down. There is road work ahead. As we know or will soon find out recovery is about work, using those tools that are provided for our own healing and serenity.

We slow down, stop and reflect on our lives, examining how certain “triggers” not only slow us down but can “shut us down.” We discover how ruminating on the same negative feelings, produce a mood that continues to stifle us and prevents us from seeing it for what it is, namely a warning for us to make some changes in our behaviors. If we let these moods deepen there is a strong possibility that these negative ruminations can push us deeper into symptoms of depression. Before that happens, starting to use our tools can save us from relapsing or experiencing a recurrence of symptoms and get us back on the road again.

There are many things that can keep us motivated to stay involved in our program of recovery. You can read these for yourself here on our website (depressedanon.com) under the menu, TOOLS FOR RECOVERY. They are welcome tools not only providing help but hope.

You can also reflect on the “slogans” used by those of us in the 12 Step fellowships. I am going to list some of them and hope that you will use these as “mantra’s” or “slogans” for your own recovery and “road work.”

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t complicate your life by over-analyzing or by placing judgments on others thinking or behavior. Don’t double yourself up with doing a hundred different things all at once.

DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING Telling yourself I’ll do it when I feel better never gets it. If you are recovering then go to meetings when you don’t want to or an appointment when you don’t feel like it. If you need to go to work go to work. That is the next right thing. Always be there for yourself and your healing. If you are doing Step work with a sponsor, then do the Step work. Do the next right thing. Put that on your bathroom mirror.

PROGRESS – NOT PERFECTION. Do what you can do and then don’t worry about it. The main thing is not that something you do is perfect –but that you are doing what you can do and doing it to the best of your ability.

CONTROL THE EFFORT-NOT THE OUTCOME. Take responsibility for you all that you do and again do your best. Make the effort. Give it your best shot. “To thine own self first be true.”

BE. HERE. NOW. Be in the present. Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow is not here yet. All we have is today. Enjoy the moment. Mindful that there is a God-and it isn’t me!

ONE DAY AT A TIME. We are only given one 24 hour period at a time. Use it well. Keep a journal and list three things that you are grateful for today.

Thank you for doing a little road work for yourself today. I hope that some of what I have written may have motivated you to look deeper into how you can “accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

If you would like to read more about depression please go to The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

Hugh

Gathering evidence that I am doing better

Originally published January 25, 2019. Some formatting changes.

I need to gather evidence that I am doing better, rather than focusing on all the ways I am feeling worse.

Negative voice: I am doing worse and I do everything wrong.

Positive response: No, I’m doing better little by little and here is some evidence:

  • Set your goals really small
  • People often give up hope feeling too overwhelmed
  • Each week identify what would be the tiniest-absolutely smallest piece of evidence that you are doing better

The smallest tiniest piece of evidence that I am doing better is:

  • I stopped my negative tape in my head once
  • That I read and completed a small section of the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, answering four questions
  • That I was able to go out and walk though I didn’t want to this week
  • Called a friend in the recovery program
  • Began to read the first couple of paragraphs from our Big Book Depressed Anonymous and made a commitment to read a few paragraphs each day

Please add a few more of your own small pieces of positive changes that you made happen this past week.

Just by reading this BLOG you are taking a tiny step in your recovery.

I have a plan that is simple with startling results

Originally published September 30, 2018. Some formatting changes.

Years ago I needed help and I was offered a number of plans/solutions which promised me relief for my particular problem. The plans offered me didn’t seem to work. In my desperation I thought I would try a 12 Step program of recovery. The plan was very simple. Not hard to understand. I tried it. I went to my first meeting and was given hope. All the folks there at the meeting were using the same plan. They talked about how this plan changed their lives. That got my attention. It got my attention because their story was my story. The group provide me with the plan’s list of areas in my life that I needed to look at. The plan, as I mentioned before was simple. Not complicated at all.

Have you ever in your life had to put something together and the thing that you put together came with a plan. It was a blueprint like thing that showed you what the end product would look like. when all the proper instructions were carried out. At this first meeting I made a commitment to follow this plan for 24 hours. Only 24 hours. Hey, not a big deal. I could handle that. So, I took the plan home and started to read the instructions, chapter and verse. It was a simple plan.

Now I had this plan. It was a plan for everyday of my life. I thought wow! is this good or what. That is exactly what I needed. I remember saying to myself, “I hope it works.” It works. Over 30 years later I am using the same plan. It never gets old and stale.

Early on I got some tools to go with the instructions on how to use the plan. The first tool showed me how to admit what was fouled up in my life and to also admit how things were terribly out of hand. In our plan there were all sorts of other tools that I needed to use if I was to get back on my feet. I have to confess some of these tools were not easy to use exactly. I mean there were parts of the plan that I needed to look at more closely than I ever had before. This plan came with a great instruction book that I and others call the Big Book. It spells out not only how to use the tools but what happens when we actively embrace them and put them to use in our daily life.

So, now besides the plan, we have the tools to go along with the instructions. So my life began to change. I began to find serenity in my life and I began to realize that there were things that I need to change in my life and then there were things I knew I couldn’t change. You know, like things that happened to me in then past. The instructions showed me a great way to take care of those issues that up to a time haunted me. I now really feel at home in my own skin now.

Startling results? Well, for sure. And part of the reason for these startling results is besides having a plan–having new tools to use-I was plopped right in the middle of a group of men and women that were using the same plan as I was. Like, we are all on the same page, literally. I was in a fellowship of folks who were telling each other their stories about how the instructions and tools brought them some really fantastic experiences changes in their lives. The first time I set foot in this group, I was promised that certain things were going to happen to me. You know what? They were right. They said that once I had the instructions under my belt, I would want to go and tell others my story. I would want to go and let those still suffering from whatever addiction was killing them, that they could live with the hope that their lives would change, as did mine. By following our plan, using our tools of recovery, and being a part of our fellowship (a 12 Step group) you “will be amazed before you are halfway through”. (the instructions) Again, that’s a Promise!

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Contact: depanon@netpenny.net for more info.

Three Circles

OK we know that depression is a disease, and we can also look at it as an addiction. In my opinion it’s helpful to look at other programs of recovery for understanding, inspiration, and tips on how to best manage your recovery from that addiction.

One topic of recovery is to have a relapse prevention plan. If you go through life unaware and on auto-pilot chances are real good that you will relapse in your depression. You want to avoid that if humanly possible. The trick is to be aware of your behaviors and where those behaviors lead you. There are things that you can do that make you feel useful and whole. There are things that you can do that lead you towards that bottom line addictive behavior. And finally the thing you are trying to avoid: having a relapse of active depression.

The three circles is one way to come up with a relapse prevention plan. The three circles are concentric (see diagram below).

The Outer Circle contains those things that you can do that make you feel good and build your inner resolve. In some circles (pardon the pun) the Outer Circle is sometimes referred to as Top Line behaviors. I’ve put into the diagram some examples of top line behaviors but that is not a comprehensive list. You decide what things fill you up and make you whole. Some other examples include: prayer; hugging loved ones; playing with your pet; talking with friends; doing service; donating time/money to your favorite charity.

The Middle Circle contains those behaviors that lead you closer to a full blown relapse of your depression. Sometimes the Middle Circle is called Mid Line Behaviors. In some recovery groups they are called “People, Places, and Things” – anything that brings you closer to your bottom. As before you decide what belongs in the Middle Circle. What triggers you toward your depression may be a common trigger, or may be unique to you.

The Inner Circle contains those behaviors that you are really trying to avoid and if you do them you are active in your depression. Again, you define what goes into the Inner Circle. I’ve diagrammed some examples, but come up with your own if those don’t ring true for you.

three-circles

I encourage you to come up with your own Three Circles diagram. Become aware of your behaviors and if you find yourself in the Middle Circle take action with your Outer Circle behaviors. If you find yourself in the Inner Circle take massive action in the Outer Circle. Seek help you are worth it.

Good luck with this task. It only works if you work it. Diagram it and put it into action.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

If you’d like to read more here is a link to a Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_circles

What is Acceptance?

What does acceptance look like?

whatisacceptance

Stop complaining about the rain. It is what it is. Your complaints about the rain are not going to make the rain stop. The only thing that the complaining creates is suffering. Suffering for you, and for the people around you. The rain is something that you cannot change. Accept it, or if you need another way of thinking about it: surrender to the reality of the fact that it is raining.

Acceptance is acknowledging that it is in fact raining. It means getting out your umbrella or raincoat and doing what you had planned on doing. If you were going to talk a walk – then take a walk. You’re not made of sugar and you won’t melt away. Go out and meet with friends if that is what you were going to do before. You may not be able to go out and have a picnic on the grass, but you could go out and have a picnic under a pavilion. You may have to give up your plans of bathing in the sun, but there are plenty of other things that you could do that would be productive.

I remember a time – it was summertime and I was 16 years old. Myself and two of my friends were hired to dig out this man’s crawl space so he could put in a full basement. No power tools – pick ax and shovel only. Our work was done for the day and I had to walk the 2 miles home. About 10 minutes into the walk the skies opened up. I don’t know about raining cats and dogs but it was coming down in buckets. At first I started to run. Then I stopped running and accepted the fact that I was going to be soaked. I began to dance and I recreated the scene from Singing In The Rain – including singing. Granted I’m not a good singer, but I had a blast.

Accept whatever rain storm you are in. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept that the rain is real. You have a choice. Accept and have serenity or resist and have suffering. Choose wisely.

There is no bad weather, there is only bad clothing.
Canadian proverb

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Serenity Prayer flowchart

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I can not change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer confuses some people. Why wouldn’t it? The prayer begins at the end where they ask God to grant them serenity. There are things that happen prior to that point. Have you determined what is and is not possible to change? Have you prayed for wisdom? I found this infographic online and this is more like the process that I go through.

serenityprayerflowchart

What problem has the fates put in front of me? Can I change the problem? If I can change it, then I will pray for courage to actually change it. If I’m unsure if I can change it, I will ask the God of my understanding for wisdom to discern if it is possible to change it. Only when you determine that it’s not possible to change the problem do you pray to your Higher Power for serenity. The Accept it state is not a static thing. Acceptance ebbs and flows, you have it and then you don’t. You will need to pray to God multiple times to get to a state of complete and utter acceptance.

I hope this helps.

Yours in recovery, Bill R